And now our own school (RE) at Unity has begun. In teacher training this fall KP challenged us to bring our passions to our practice of teaching; to practice meeting the passions of our children, to risk being undone. A beautiful and sober invitation as we begin the year. At it’s heart we are called to prepare ourselves to be fully alive and fully in relationship to ourselves and the children we companion and witness in our classes. It is to be ready to be lit up like our flaming chalice. We are called to be present in kindness and generosity whether we judge our class successful or wanting. And there is always something to learn.
Fall is here. School is underway.
This Sunday we learned to “get ready” in our class. We get ready as we begin by sitting criss cross apple sauce with our hands in our lap. We quiet our minds and our voices and our bodies so that we can listen. We practiced this in my class several times when the attention of the children began to wander. I practiced it myself as I realized a piece of ritual I missed or did out of order, remembering for myself and my class that we are all learning Spirit Play together.
Part of the philosophy of Spirit Play is to use whatever comes up as an opportunity for us to learn in community and this is something that I sometimes am not quite ready for. This week we had one child who wanted to play at the sand table instead of sitting on the rug or with the door teacher. I invited him to sit a few times, but he did not accept my invitation. After a few attempts I brought my attention back to our circle and let the moment be what it was. We began our circle and one child heard the scraping of a tool scooping sand against the bottom of the table and spoke up to say she was distracted. I listened and suggested we all get ready again and focus our attention on what was happening in our circle. We moved on with class and a second child raised her voice to say that the sound of the sand table was distracting. I also listened to this comment and reflected back to her that it was hard to listen with that noise and then I kept going with class. I recognize in myself my desire to smoothly lead our class ritual and my loss at what to do after having extended an invitation that wasn’t accepted. As I play it back in my head, I wish I would have let our community of children voice their distraction and offered it as another invitation into the circle. Or to have started a conversation that might include the question, “What would help you come into our circle?” I wanted to model acceptance and kindness, which maybe felt more accepting to the sand scraping then to the children asking for help to not be distracted in the circle. I maybe forgot that we all have a place and a voice, and part of what church is, is to navigate that in community and in love. If I had gone this imaginary route, maybe we would have all come to awareness that our friend at the sand table arrived at class needing to go to the bathroom which was making him uncomfortable. Instead, as we went on with our circle, he had an accident and then happily joined us on the rug after he was relieved and clean. There are many ways to get ready.
So, how do you get ready? In what ways are you quieting your mind, heart and body in order to listen to the moment? Are you showing up to class having met the needs of your body and soul? Are you receptive and open to the unexpected lessons that emerge in this room every week?
Come, let us wonder together.